Sunday, February 8, 2009

in today's "knowledge economy"

For a new breed of professional, life is a blend of work and leisure where you're never in the right place. Always on the go, we feel like we are in the right place at the right time only when in transit, moving from point A to B. Constant motion is a balm to an anxious culture where we are haunted by the feeling that we are frauds, expendable in the workplace because so much of our service work is intangible.
Otherwise known as the "Elsewhere Class," never have so many professionals worked in such abstract industries.

I would place account planning/brand strategy in this new breed, and there have been many blog posts by green and mature planners alike that say something like "I need to think for hours and then come back with a fresh mind to tackle a problem." This thinking time is definitely not the same "labor" as being able to quantify the bottles of beer, milk, or juice you filled and packaged, and are now ready to ship by the crate (which you can also count). We can't look at our thinking time and assess its worth.
The ubiquity of information in today's "knowledge economy" makes each occupation's claim to unique expertise flimsier and flimsier.
Trend-watching services have dubbed this on-all-the-time trend with many names, but not until I read this article did I feel validated in my professional struggle to prove my value. As a Millennial in a workplace with Gen X, Boomers, and Matures; and as a planner, a fairly new discipline unto itself; I'm working constantly to bring to life the abstract. As an active member with many social media, I like to think that the tangible part to evaluate is a conversation, but I know people would disagree with me. What can I take away from a conversation? What value is a conversation? I've been asked this before and my answer is often actionable ideas. But is this good enough?

Time and social media will tell.

For more, read the article "Welcome to Elsewhere" in Newsweek


Jam said...

It's a pickle. I wonder if your blog itself constitutes an answer to that (as mine does)? A blog provides a flow of somewhat tangible - or at least recorded - thought, preservable (in as much as this page exists), and quantifiable (in as much as I can post a comment agreeing or disagreeing with you).

But, this only provides justification within the sphere of planning; how planning justifies itself is another matter. For this, I would hope that many people are doing what I did to get my job - some sort of book or portfolio that draws as many clear links as possible between the planning process and its results.

We only see the wind when the trees move, after all.

erin said...

I think showing results is good > measurable is always "proof." BUT I think there are valuable unmeasurable, seemingly unvaluable, things/activities that we struggle with nowadays - sitting and thinking would appear like a stupid thing to do "on the job." right? But as planners, sometimes that's exactly what we need to do, get outside stimulus from unrelated subjects to influence us. How should we charge for influence? It IS a pickle. :P

Thanks for your feedback.

Nguyen Duong said...

as planners, our job is to find opportunities/inspiration to solve the client's business problem in a creative way. so if our time is spent observing, thinking, and connecting the dots/conversations taking place out there...we'll be better positioned to tell a compelling story that'll stick and provide our creative partners a springboard to develop a solution. agree?

but we should be careful not to be lumped into the same ilk as those tragically hip, cooler-than-you, trendspotting services. they seem to have a lot of observations of the latest/greatest, where they fall short is providing some tangible relevance that sticks, and helps solve. we should take 'em w/a grain of salt. i guess like anything else.

great post, erin. has me thinking a bit more today.

erin said...

thanks nguyen. it has me thinking too. :)